Is the End in Sight for NBC’s ‘Law & Order’ Franchise?

Apr 14, 2014  •  Post A Comment

The end could be near for one of television's most enduring drama franchises of all time. The last of NBC's "Law & Order" series still on the air, "Law & Order: SVU," is at risk of cancellation, Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com.

The renewal for “SVU,” which was the first and remains — at 15 seasons and counting — the most durable of the original series' four spinoffs, is “being complicated by financial issues,” Andreeva reports.

“As a high-end drama at that age, it is inherently expensive, leading to periodic budget reviews,” she writes. While “SVU” and “Chicago Fire’ received early pickups last year, this time around “SVU,” which has been on the air since 1999, has yet to receive a renewal.

Andreeva adds: “I hear the holdup has to do with a pay cut [creator Dick] Wolf had been asked to take in order for ‘SVU’ to come back, something he has been unwilling to do."

The report notes: “Wolf’s camp could argue that 'SVU' is having one of its strongest seasons in years, with star Mariska Hargitay getting notices for her nuanced performance.” Yet, Andreeva adds: “Solid as they are, ‘SVU’‘s numbers still are nowhere near the show’s heyday, prompting the network’s request for cost reduction. Ironically, NBC is in position to hold firm in part because of Wolf’s success with the ‘Chicago Fire’ franchise.”

The story also notes: “Further complicating things, if a renewal is reached, the studio has to move on to secure Hargitay, whose deal is up. The uncertainty seems to have people on the show evaluating their options — I hear showrunner Warren Leight has been eyed for a pilot.”

The original "Law & Order," which premiered way back in 1990, had an impressive 20-season run on NBC, racking up 456 episodes before NBC pulled the plug in 2010. But other than "SVU," the only other spinoff that had much of an impact was "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," which ran for 10 seasons before wrapping in 2011.

Two other spinoffs, "Law & Order: Trial by Jury" and "Law & Order: L.A.," each lasted just one season.

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